The roadmap for Orange to get out of lockdown has been made somewhat clearer, although it seems some rules are still up for interpretation.
On Thursday morning it was announced that Orange, Blayney, Cabonne and dozens of other LGAs across the state would remain in lockdown past this Friday.
While having no cases recorded for 14 straight days is the main factor in allowing communities to come out of lockdown, that isn't all that health officials are looking at.
Chief executive of Western NSW Local Health District, Scott McLachlan spoke about the changing situation.
"I know the stay at home orders will adapt over time, we're still adapting those at the moment to make sure they'll be right for rural areas," he said.
"We know that the connections between rural communities are very strong, in particular people coming in and out of the big regional hubs at Dubbo, Bathurst and Orange. We've got active cases that have been infectious in the community in recent days at all three of those locations."
Among the other factors he mentioned in determining LGAs coming out of lockdown were sewage testing as well as COVID testing numbers. That last point was something of particular concern for the health boss.
"I think it's a real concern that testing numbers continue to drop. I know Orange in the last 24 hours (Wednesday) only saw 336 people come forward to get tested," Mr McLachlan said.
"That to me is an extremely low number given we've had people infectious in the community in previous days. We know that there are a lot of locations of concern, we know there is a lot of risk in the community of transmission that we aren't picking up because the testing numbers are so low.
"I would urge everyone, if you don't want to end up in an area of concern of location that is in lockdown, then please, come and get tested if you've got any signs and symptoms. The testing access times are very quick and the turnaround times are improving every day of the week. I know that wasn't the case a few weeks ago but it is today."
Dubbo MP Dugald Saunders provided an example of a regional city that could soon see its stay-at-home restrictions lifted.
"Somewhere like Mudgee for example, the Mid-Western council which hasn't had a case now for eight or nine days, maybe by the end of next week could look at coming out," he said.
"It will be around community transmission. If there is still a concern around how transmission might be happening or if there are high levels of sewage detection but no cases yet, I think that will probably influence (lockdown) a little bit. But low sewage detections and no cases and no transmission or no signs of transmission, we're really hoping more areas can come out, but there is that reality that we don't want to go too early for an area that's had active cases."
He added that they would need to make sure all of the cases are discharged and there is no more transmission or possibility of transmission in that local government area.
Orange recorded one new COVID case up to 8pm Wednesday and Mr McLachlan said they were not infectious in the community.
"Don't take that as a sign that everything is fine," he said.
"We know that in recent days there have been infectious people in the community. It's just one day and we know COVID can creep around the community for a week, ten days or two weeks before we pick it up and particularly with testing numbers so low."
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